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VOL. 131 | NO. 58 | Tuesday, March 22, 2016


Bill Dries

Last Word: A Trip to Committee, Minority Business Moves and the Issue With Reissues

By Bill Dries

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So those who support the general concept of de-annexation in the Tennessee state Senate were the most vocal Monday in sending the proposal back to committee for a more intense examination.

There were plenty of Memphians in the Senate chambers Monday despite the rumors that this was on its way back to committee.
Staying put until the deal is done has been a lesson won through bitter experience for some Memphis leaders.
Despite hearing from legislators in other parts of the state who are uneasy about this, the opposition remains a Memphis thing in Nashville.
But the Senate sponsor, Bo Watson, stumped his toe badly on this when he shut down an amendment Senate Republican Leader Mark Norris of Collierville wanted to allow the voluntarily de-annexation of an area Millington recently took into its city limits.
So when the state and local government committee meets at noon Wednesday, it will be round – frankly, I forget which round it is. Just ring the bell and let’s see what happens.

A style notation here about our hyphenation of the word de-annexation. This is per the Associated Press style guide consulted belatedly by our associate editor Kate Crawford. No, you won’t find an entry. It’s based on the AP’s response to an inquiry about how to proceed on this term. And no, the inquiry did not come from Memphis.

Back to Nashville for a few notes: There is a plan for an interim Senate Speaker to succeed the departing Ron Ramsey that is making the rounds this week in the capital. And another effort to revive Insure Tennessee on the House side.

Stephen Ash’s book on the city’s three-days of mob violence in 1866 has been out since October. But when Ash came to town last week as part of a lecture series at Rhodes College, there was plenty of proof that the book is peaking with Memphis readers. The large ballroom at Rhodes was standing room only to hear what Ash had to say about how he built the book, and the lessons to be learned from the violence of 1866 in which 46 Memphians were killed by roaming mobs of whites who also burned every black church and school in the city.
The lecture was a kick-off of sorts to local observations of the 150th anniversary of the violence which will reach its climax in May.

In another ongoing local issue, still some differing views on how to encourage minority business growth in granting tax breaks and other incentives to businesses coming to Memphis or expanding in Memphis.
EDGE and the Greater Memphis Chamber aired differing visions of how to proceed last week with some parts of this about to roll out this summer despite the differences.
The Chamber is moving ahead with its portal of minority firms that are certified. It’s hopes this becomes a central place to look for certified minority businesses on the way to a single certification process.
The chamber still favors what amounts to a carrot philosophy that increases incentives to businesses that contract with minority firms. EDGE still favors a requirement on the front end of getting the incentives, or what might be called the stick if firms to meet the front-end goal.

Moore Tech among the two-year institutions becoming involved in new training programs for the medical device industry locally. It’s not something the long-time Memphis “trade school” is associated with. But that’s about to change as the industry needs machinists.

Rounding out our Economic Development Emphasis, more on the Graduate Memphis program.

More turnover in the leadership of the city’s healthcare and hospital community. This time at Saint Francis Hospital where David Archer is retiring as CEO of the hospital’s Memphis market. He’s held the position of CEO of the market since 2006 – the hospital itself since 1997.

Great piece in Billboard about the new 60-disc Elvis Presley box set that is out in time for this week’s 60th anniversary of Presley’s first album.
It’s a box with the original albums with a few amendments for duplicated material and it includes a rarities disc.
Presley’s after-life continues to offer precedents and lessons in the business of music just as he did during his lifetime and culture shattering career.
It’s been 39 years since his last recordings. But in his last years, there was a struggle to get new material. That resulted in there not being a lot of stuff in the vault like some artists who always had more than they could release and who have had unheard material released for years after their deaths. Jimi Hendrix may be the best example of that.
So Presley’s material has been packaged numerous ways since his death with one of the gripes being that at some point you probably already own this in some form, possibly several forms.
But packaging is important.
The Sun Sessions – his singles and their b-sides from the 1950s in Memphis before RCA signed him – weren’t their own album on the RCA label until a year before Presley’s death and his lack of new material probably played a role in the release then.
Presley didn’t really do interviews. But there is a clip that has turned up in one of the Elvis documentaries done during his lifetime where he is asked what he thought of the Sun Records recording.
The jump-suited Vegas Elvis laughs and gives an incomplete answer that hints at embarrassment in the 1970s, some 20 years after he recorded them. Maybe too much echo. Not a big enough sound. But you get – at least I get – the feeling that whatever his real feelings were, he didn’t feel like he could date himself by getting too close to them.
It’s hard to tell because the first rock and roll artist was also the first rock and roll artist to figure out how to age or to try to fight off age.
It’s still fascinating to think about what a Sun Records in the album age would have been like, divorced from the record label’s emphasis on singles and spins on a jukeboxes that were the currency of the business in the 1950s.
The Billboard piece also talks about an issue – yes, there are issues in music -- we explored during Elvis week in 2013 when session player Norbert Putnam came to town for a talk at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.
The subject was the recording sessions at Stax in the early 1970s that RCA spread across several albums apparently oblivious to the idea of an Elvis At Stax package at a time when Stax was at its second peak – the Shaft era at Stax.
Decades later, RCA – by now part of Sony – remedied that with a box set on the Stax recordings. The basic tracks weren’t new. But the box offered alternate takes and working incomplete versions that didn’t make the albums.
Better late than never in that case.
But the cautionary tale here is that even if you don’t have a vault full of unreleased recordings, those who come later will nevertheless find incomplete versions and any live recordings they can get their hands on and put them out.
Some of it is revelatory. Some of it answers questions that people who read album and single labels have. And some of it is stuff an artist as particular as Presley was never would have wanted to see the light of day.

This may be the first use of the term “brewery district” to describe the renovation of the Tennessee Brewery and development of the surrounding property.

Bella Vita, the home interior and design shop in Collierville, is expanding.

And the speculation about a search for a new Tigers basketball coach now turns to speculation about a new Tigers assistant coach who could be the heir apparent beyond next basketball season.

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